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Modernizing a Technology From the Vacuum Tube Era To Generate Cheap Power

Hand-built research converters and thermionic demonstration device heated with a flame to produce power. (GE Research, 1960s)

When scientists Daniel Riley and Jared Schwede left Stanford University last year to join Cyclotron Road, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s program for entrepreneurial researchers, their vision was to take thermionics, an all-but-forgotten technology, and develop it into a clean, compact, and efficient source of power.

Berkeley Lab Scientists Developing Paint-on Coating for Energy Efficient Windows

Berkeley Lab scientists (from left) Raymond Weitekamp, Arman Shehabi, and Steve Selkowitz will use the Berkeley Lab windows test lab to develop a paintable heat-reflective coating for low-cost energy efficient windows. (Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt/Berkeley Lab)

It’s estimated that 10 percent of all the energy used in buildings in the U.S. can be attributed to window performance, costing building owners about $50 billion annually, yet the high cost of replacing windows or retrofitting them with an energy efficient coating is a major deterrent. Berkeley Lab researchers are seeking to address this problem with creative chemistry—a polymer heat-reflective coating that can be painted on at one-tenth the cost.

Polar Vortices Observed in Ferroelectric

Ramesh vortices feature

Berkeley Lab researchers have observed polar vortices in a ferroelectric material that appear to be the electrical cousins of magnetic skyrmions. This discovery holds intriguing possibilities for advanced electronic devices and could also rewrite our basic understanding of ferroelectrics.

Weaving a New Story for COFS and MOFs

Omar Weaving art illustation feature

An international collaboration led by Berkeley Lab scientists
has woven the first 3D covalent organic frameworks (COFs) from helical organic threads. The woven COFs display significant advantages in structural flexibility, resiliency and reversibility over previous COFs.

Researchers Pinpoint the Drivers for Low-Priced PV Systems in the United States

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The price of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed on homes and small businesses spans a wide range, and researchers from Berkeley Lab have published a new study that reveals the key market and system drivers for low-priced PV systems.

Seeing the Big Picture in Photosynthetic Light Harvesting

Through the miracle of photosynthesis, plants absorb sunlight in their leaves and convert the photonic energy into chemical energy that is stored as sugars in the plants’ biomass. (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt)

Berkeley Lab scientists have created the first computational model that simulates the light-harvesting activity of thousands of antenna proteins that would interact in the chloroplast of an actual leaf. The results point the way to improving the yields of food and fuel crops, and developing artificial photosynthesis technologies for next generation solar energy systems.

One-Stop Shop for Biofuels

Blake and Seema featured

Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a “high-gravity” one-pot process for producing ethanol from cellulosic biomass that gives unprecedented yields while minimizing water use and waste disposal.

Renewable Energy for State Renewable Portfolio Standards Yielded Sizable Benefits and Other Impacts in 2013

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A new study estimates that billions in dollars in benefits come from reduced greenhouse gas emissions and from reductions in other air pollution for state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies operating in 2013. RPS policies require utilities or other electricity providers to meet a minimum portion of their load with eligible forms of renewable electricity.

How to Train Your Bacterium

Peidong solar feature

Berkeley Lab researchers are using the bacterium Moorella thermoacetica to perform photosynthesis and also to synthesize semiconductor nanoparticles in a hybrid artificial photosynthesis system for converting sunlight into valuable chemical products.

Paul Alivisatos Wins the National Medal of Science

Paul Alivisatos

Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos has been named a winner of the 2015 National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest honor for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research.